Y-Cam – Bullet review

weatherproof wireless IP camera
Photo of Y-Cam – Bullet
£295

Surveillance and security are two of the top obsessions of the current century and, as ever, technology is always willing to lend a helping hand. IP cameras (often called network cameras) for business use tend to be either cheap and cheerful or pricey and fully-loaded. And when you enter the world of outdoor models, things start to get even more complicated.

The Bullet jumps head-first into this morass. It’s Y-Cam’s first fully weatherproof (IP66 standard) model and can operate between -5°C and 45°C. It has both 100Mbps Ethernet and wireless 802.11b/g connectivity and also supports 802.3af PoE, meaning you can plug it into a suitable switch or injector and throw the mains adapter away. PPPoE web connections are supported, so the Bullet can even connect directly to a suitable DSL modem with no need for a PC.

It certainly looks and feels the part, with a sturdy all-aluminium construction. In the box there’s a detachable metal sun visor plus a strong wall/ceiling swivel mount. The cable loom is fixed and protected with a waterproof sleeve. This protection extends for about 80cm before terminating 20cm later in four connectors; an RJ-45 Ethernet plug, DC power jack, 3.5mm jack socket for amplified speakers, plus a digital I/O socket for linking to surveillance or alarm systems. A microphone is built into the camera.

Setup is straightforward, although the setup utility had trouble discovering our unit and we found it easier to browse directly to the camera’s DHCP-assigned IP address. The manual is excellent, although as it’s a generic one covering several models there are occasional references to non-existent features. The configuration menu is easy to navigate, although there’s no context-sensitive help.

Y-Cam’s free network video recording program, MultiLive (also available for Android and iPhone), lets you view and record feeds (or take snapshots) from up to 36 separate cameras. Alternatively, recordings triggered by motion detection or external alarms can be stored on an onboard microSD card (not supplied), allowing the Bullet to work autonomously. Triggered event notifications and snapshots can be sent via FTP or SMTP, or on a schedule.

Motion detection setup involves configuring four adjustable windows, with sliders for threshold and sensitivity. It has a static focus lens, so there are no pan, tilt or optical zoom capabilities, although the camera has a reasonable field of view at 60° horizontal and 45° vertical.

Live streaming uses MPEG-4 or MJPEG formats at up to 30fps, and up to 16 users can view feeds simultaneously on pretty much any PC, Mac or mobile phone browser. An RTSP stream (authenticated or open) is also provided. The Internet Explorer ActiveX plug-in can record video, zoom in, take snapshots, turn alarms on or off and adjust the mic volume. This plugin is also the only way to send audio from the PC’s microphone to the camera’s speaker output. In other browsers only viewing is possible unless you have Quicktime Pro installed, in which case you can also record video.

Picture quality is very good, although it’s only VGA resolution, and a mechanical infrared cut filter gives very natural-looking colours. Twelve infrared LEDs around the lens glow red when active and give a claimed 12-15m night vision range, which is about what we achieved. The night vision is excellent, with even illumination over most of the viewing field.

A low-light sensor turns on the LEDs, disables the infrared filter and enables black and white mode: the sensitivity of this sensor can’t be adjusted, but the LEDs can be turned on manually. ‘Moonlight mode’ can superimpose frames to improve brightness. The overall effect is very impressive, giving clear mono images in pitch darkness.

Company: Y-Cam

Contact: 0845 500 0247


Verdict
An interesting outdoor camera that bridges the gap between expensive highly-specialised models and cheaper but less-capable consumer products. It's well-priced considering its features and performance and could be a handy purchase for smaller business needing outdoor surveillance with minimum hassle.